If you’ve ever wondered when the machine revolution would come — an era when machines can replicate themselves — look no further than Sidney’s Revolution 3D Printers.
The local company is certainly not some fictionalized Skynet come to life, but the manufacturer of 3D printers, the brainchild of Founder Warren Strome. The printers are, however, capable of manufacturing a significant amount of their own components.
“Within this space, we actually manufacture, 30 per cent of the part for the printers themselves,” Strome said, addressing a small crowd of guests on the seventh annual Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Tour of Industry.
Up until four months ago, Strome and a small team worked out of his own basement. They now have space in the West Sidney Industrial area, building 3D printers and providing training for educators and product developers.
Strome himself has a background in aviation and says he has applied those skills to a product he “felt was pretty awesome.” His first machine was built four years ago and the business has been growing ever since.
Within the shop, Revolution’s printers are constantly in motion, using various compounds to create machine parts and even tools. One, a socket wrench, is an example of a design that was emailed to NASA’s international space station and printed out on a 3D printer. The wrench works and is both light and durable.
As the business has taken off, Strome said mor interest is starting to come from all levels of government and the education field. Revolution 3D Printers specializes in desktop-sized machines that can be used in classrooms and smaller offices.
“We are focussing on this size of 3D printer — yes there are larger and faster ones — but our focus is on desktop innovation.”
The majority, some 75 per cent, of Revolution’s customers are in B.C. and the company currently employs five people. Strome lives on the Saanich Peninsula and decided to keep his business close to home in those first few years during startup.
Strome pointed out the excellent support the Chamber has provided and did not indicate he had any serious issues or challenges conducting business from his Peninsula location.
Strome did say that the market is so new for 3D printers, that he is, in effect, helping to create new businesses — namely those that can supply him with the materials the printers need to manufacture a wide range of items.
“We are forming partnerships with different people to shape the industry,” he said. “And the only limit is the imaginations of scientists and development designers.”
The Chamber’s seventh round
The seventh annual Tour of Industry — hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 22 — has become a high profile way for industrial companies, large and small, to lobby local government.
Over the past three tours, issues such as public transportation and taxation have been raised as concerns by business owners.
The most common issue, however, remains affordable housing options for a large, skilled workforce.
While three of the six businesses on this year’s tour did not specifically identify housing as a concern, the other half did, keeping the issue front and centre.
Local and provincial government representatives were again well-represented on the tour — and are sure to have gotten the message, loud and clear. — Editor